Europe is actively mining lithium

Jan 05, 2023

According to a report by Japan's "Sankei Shimbun" on December 22, 2022, the European Union, which is promoting energy decarbonization, has set off a boom in lithium mining. Lithium is integral to the production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries and is known as "white gold". In the increasingly fierce world competition, the EU hopes to get rid of its dependence on foreign countries through independent development.


The mountains of central France are now getting attention as Europe's "new gold country". This is a village named Echasie with a population of only 390 people. There is a kaolin mine that can be used as a porcelain material. Now it has been confirmed that there is a huge lithium vein, and the relevant mining plan has been released by the end of October 2022.


The planned investment amount is 1 billion euros, and it will strive to increase the annual production capacity to 34,000 tons from 2028. A spokesperson for the publicity department of Ingrid Porcelain, which is in charge of this development, said: "This will become one of the largest lithium mines in Europe. The lithium needed for batteries of 700,000 electric cars can be produced annually. "


The European Union is developing lithium in central Finland, and strives to put it into production in 2024. Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic have also released mining plans one after another.


According to the forecast of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global demand for lithium in 2040 will be 13 times that of 2020. In Europe, Portugal is the largest lithium producer, but accounts for less than 1% of global output, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).


The European Union plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, promoting the transition to electric vehicles. According to calculations by the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, the EU's demand for lithium will increase to 30 times the current level by 2050, and development in the regions has become an important issue.


European Commission President von der Leyen said in a speech in September 2022 that lithium will be more important than oil and natural gas in the future, and advocated the establishment of a supply chain that does not depend on foreign countries. She expressed confidence in her goal of sourcing 30 percent of refined lithium in the regions. The Russo-Ukraine war exposed the risk of relying on foreign countries for important supplies, which also promoted a change in the EU's consciousness.


The challenge now is how to deal with residents' opposition.


It has been pointed out that, in addition to destroying forests, lithium mining may also cause pollution by pumping groundwater. In Portugal and Spain, mining plans have struggled to continue as campaigns against mining intensified. The government of Serbia, an Eastern European country, announced in January that it would suspend the development plan.